How A Pharmaceutical Company Handled Its Growing Pains

by Elizabeth Dukes on March 28, 2019

Growth is exciting, but it can also be painful—especially when your company is outgrowing its real estate.

That’s what led Vertex, a global pharmaceutical company, to consolidate 11 buildings into their $850 million, 1.6 million square-foot headquarters in Boston’s Innovation District.Known for its groundbreaking Hepatitis C and cystic fibrosis treatments, Vertex prides itself on innovation. A big part of that are their innovation labs, which serve as incubators for promising biotech startups.

Vertex’s Senior Director of Global Operations, Jeff MacKay, needed to manage the logistics of housing more than 2,000 employees under one roof while also providing an exceptional employee experience.

Here’s how he did it.

A Single Source of Workplace Data

While preparing to move into the new headquarters, MacKay recognized the need for a single platform where he could see real-time data on occupancy and assets and also plan the logistics of a massive move.

iOFFICE’s integrated workplace management system (IWMS) provided MacKay and his team with access all this data in one place.

This allowed them to:

  • Visualize 16 stories of space and assess how to best use it
  • Create move scenarios using drag-and-drop functionality
  • Make better use of the building’s 150 conference rooms and 75 collaboration spaces
  • See who was in the office on any given day and who was working remotely
  • Ensure the right equipment was available for those who needed it
  • Adjust maintenance schedules and cafeteria menus accordingly

Vertex later added iOFFICE’s visitor management and mailroom management software, which helped enhance building security and made mail deliveries more efficient.

Using Workplace Technology In Innovative Ways

To encourage innovation, Vertex collaborates with small biotech firms and rents them space and lab equipment, allowing these companies to achieve significant savings.

However, because tenants in this space need separate IP protection and security, the hub has to be run as a separate business. The firms are billed individually even though they are using shared conference rooms, equipment and other building amenities.

To make this arrangement work, MacKay transformed iOFFICE’s facility maintenance software into his tenant billing system. He uses it not only to manage shared conference rooms, but also to track rent and fees, including license fees and janitorial service agreement fees based on square footage.

Using the Insights module, Jeff’s team and tenants can submit requests and get data readouts of their nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) samples and media prep used in their experiments, then create PDF copies that are added to the rent. He also uses the Insights module to track compliance issues based on an audit of each tenant’s training—from lab safety and background checks to emergency training.

MacKay is also responsible for 750 parking spaces that are managed by a third party on a recurring work order. He uses the Insights module to build a custom report to bill his tenants and Vertex employees for parking.

Constantly Improving the Employee Experience

Vertex’s Real Estate Group is now looking to develop a global office standard to create a consistent employee experience around the globe.

“Five years ago, we were a small biotech firm with no real best practices,” MacKay said. “We needed a study of how employees and visitors used the space as it felt like a law firm with lots of 6×8 cubicles and a 1:1 seating ratio. Every time we wanted to do something, it meant knocking down a wall. With ten years left on a 1.1 million square foot lease, we know we need flexibility in both our space and working policies to stay competitive. We want to create a space that people really want to work in.”

To improve the functionality of the workplace, Vertex created a team that included professionals in real estate, facility management, IT, HR and corporate communications.

They launched a survey to get benchmarks for both qualitative and quantitative factors that impact the employee experience. Using the iOFFICE platform, the team analyzed badge data to track occupancy and mapped physical floor data to determine travel patterns and cost centers across groups. That team is now branching out to other departments for input.

Using iOFFICE Hummingbird and the Wayfinding app in conjunction with Relogix sensors and Roam’s digital displays, tenants can scan a QR code to find and book a conference room or even lab equipment, all with the goal of making the employee experience better for everyone at Vertex.

Want to try Hummingbird for yourself? Request a demo today.


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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